Chili Cook Off 2014

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IMAG0911As promised, I have an update on the Ohio regional competition that I competed in this past weekend. The event was spread out over three days and included participants from the International Chili Society, non- profits such as the VFW, (who won an award by the way), and an amateur division that I was a entrant in.

IMG_20140826_102037_261Two years ago I first participated in this event sponsored by CaJohn’s Fiery Foods of Westerville, Ohio and took 1st place in the five state regional, amateur division. I had never been in a competition like this before and was unsure of what to expect. It was a fun time and I am met alot of great people. There were vendors of all sorts, a car show, activities for the kids, and of course a huge supply of various types of chili to be sampled. On the first day of this event, I entered a Chili Verde, which is green chili. Judging for the amateur division was done by peoples choice. You would purchase a tasting kit and cast your vote for your favorites. I walked away that day with 1st place! What an experience!

The following year, my step-father was in the hospital and I was unable to attend. I continued to make my chili occasionally for my family and holiday functions. My instructor at Dynamic Self Defense in New Albany, Ohio cannot get enough of this and requests it often, especially for belt testing at Christmas.

When asked if I would be participating in this years event, I said yes. I make a pretty mean red chili that won 1st at a Limited Brands, chili competition a few years ago, but I prefer to make the green for this event. Having lived in the Southwest for many years, I grew very fond of Southwestern food. A good Chili Relleno and Tacos Al Pastor are two of my favorites. By the way, I placed 3rd in the amateur division this year.

As promised, here is my recipe. I have omitted a few ingredients, but this is delicious just the same. I use pork because it is traditional. You may substitute with chicken however.

IMG_20140821_091706_604I begin by removing the outer husk from about 20 Lg. tomatillos, cutting them in half and placing them face down on a cookie sheet in the oven until slightly blackened. Then I put them in the processor and puree, along with the juice. Put the puree in a crock pot or soup pot. Next I roast, peel, and remove the seeds from  20 Poblano peppers and puree them also. Don’t forget to wear gloves. The peppers and tomatillos do not have to be roasted. You can cut them in small pieces and boil the mixture down. Any green chili will work but I prefer the Poblano. Add 1 Qt chicken broth to the puree. Some of the contestants prefer to use homemade chicken stock but I think it overpowers the pork. Bring this to a low boil and then reduce to simmer.

For the meat, I use 5# of pork stew meat that I trim well. Cut the pork into small 1/2 ” cubes, roll in corn flour and brown. Add in 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 diced jalapeno’s, 5 cloves diced garlic and 1 chopped Lg. white onion. when the onions have softened, add to the chili.                                                                                                                       Next we add the seasonings. 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin, 1/2 Tbsp ground coriander, 1/2 Tbsp ground oregano, 1/2 Tbsp fresh cracked pepper, 1/4 tsp ancho powder, 1/2 tsp chipotle flakes and 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro. If you do not like the slightly sour flavor, try adding some brown sugar. I suggest 1 Tbsp. Add salt to your preference. This needs to cook all day and I let mine simmer for three days before I take it to judging. The flavors change so much over time. It is fun to taste and adjust the finished result. I especially enjoy this over eggs. Huevos Rancheros.

IMG_20140826_075806_491Feel free to use your imagination with this and add additional spice, some serrano for more heat, or even potato. Chili Verde can be a main dish or served as a topping over burritos, eggs, you name it. If you have any questions regarding this recipe or if I have forgotten to explain something, please contact me.

As is most of the food that I eat, this is a healthy recipe that is nutritious!   In fitness, Bob

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When is there a “Good Day” to Not Go Work out?

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Motivating others is one of the requirements to being a successful Personal Trainer. It also builds and teaches the client to see when and where they need to self motivate. Great improvements and goals are then reached when you can take the initiative upon yourself to get up and move. Awesome forward progress!

No Glass Slippers Here!

Lately, my brain tells me that there are more days to NOT go work out than days TO go work out.  I’m too busy at work, I have deadlines, I’m tired, I hurt, I need to study.  Yep, the excuses are out there by the millions.  However, lets face it, those days that you don’t WANT to go work out are really days you need it the most.  I can talk myself out of anything, I’m a pro at it.  Talking myself INTO something, I leave that to my husband.  Yep, he is my motivator, my “kick in the butt” to get me going.  Even on the days that I respond by acting like a spoiled rotten two year old by pouting and complaining, I will usually give in.  And when I do, something miraculous happens.  I go and all of a sudden I feel better and those excuses aren’t valid anymore.

At present…

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Chili Cook Off (chili verde that is)

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IMG_20140819_154206_415It is time for the chili cook off in Westerville, Ohio again. I was unable to attend last years event due to an illness in the family. The year before that, I went home with 1st place in the Ohio Regional amateur division. This was open to five states! It was truly an unforgettable experience to be a part of. This year’s contest will be at the Iron Pony.

The contest brings in amateurs such as myself, professionals from the ICS, (International Chili Society), local chefs, and professionals from surrounding fire departments and law enforcement. The public has the opportunity to purchase a tasting kit, which includes a score card for their favorite chili in different divisions. There are also vendors that sell chili seasonings, hot peppers of all types, clothing, pepper earrings, and just about any thing else you can imagine.

Since the amateur division judging is this weekend, I made the grocery run to my favorite Mexican market today for my staples. About 5 lbs. of pork stew meat, 20 Poblano chilies, 20 large tomatillos, fresh cilantro, and a few jalapenos. The rest of my ingredients I already have. Garlic, onion, chipotle flakes, Mexican oregano, cumin, coriander, white pepper, brown sugar, chicken broth, olive oil, and masa (corn flour) for thickening.

The most time consuming task, and what I believe makes my chili verde stand out, is the fact that I roast my Poblanos and tomatillos before I peel and puree them. This is also what makes this chili green. Green in Spanish is verde. It is quite difficult to get the same amount of spicy heat in each batch, due to the fact that the heat levels are never the same in the peppers. I also like the flavor best after three days of simmering. The flavors change so much over the course of each day,  it is a challenge to leave enough for judging. Occasionally I get carried away with the heat and not everyone can enjoy the fire it leaves.

I will follow this post up with a detailed recipe and pictures after the event. If I have left your mouth watering and searching for green chili, then we are on the same quest.   In fitness, Bob

Soup is Simple

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IMAG0912I received a phone call this morning to inform me that my patio door would be replaced this week. This is great news! The bad news is that I also discovered the manager of the complex I live in is sick today.  She sounded pretty bummed about feeling ill, but looks forward to being a test subject for my recipes. Being the kind of guy that loves to throw stuff together on the fly, I made her a bowl of soup.

I grabbed a small sauce pan and melted a little butter in it, tossed in some fresh minced garlic and onions, and browned them. Next I poured in a cup of low sodium chicken broth and brought it to a boil.

While that continued to simmer, I peeled and cut thin slices of carrot and Chayote squash and added them to the broth. I only used half of the carrot and half of the squash. You can substitute sweet potato for the squash. I then cut a Portabello mushroom and tossed it in. There was some leftover Red Cargo Rice in the refrigerator as well, so I threw in about 1/3 cup.

The seasonings were unmeasured, but were a sprinkle of cumin, coriander, sea salt, thyme and powdered ginger. I contemplated a dash of brown sugar but felt it was not needed. If I had a little chicken leftover, I would have added that also.

She was showing a property when I left it on her desk, but I am confident it will pick up her spirits. Many people overlook the simplicity and speed in making a pot of soup. Don’t be mistaken, I make a chili verde that simmers for three days. Not everything needs to be complex or drawn out.

Just like exercise, begin with a base and build from there. Once you know the basics and begin to gain confidence in your progress, you can add to your routine and increase your self worth. There is no need to make food or exercise any more complex or time consuming than you want it to be.         In fitness, Bob

Isometric Exercise

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A great addition to anyone’s fitness or exercise routine can and should be Isometrics. Using your own body against itself as resistance, or applying pressure to a stationary object will challenge and activate your muscles and increase circulation. As I write this, I am sitting on a stability ball instead of the office chair to engage my core.

It is believed that Isometric exercise dates back thousands of years to Yoga and Martial arts practitioners. It was also the precursor to body building. Chiropractors and Physical Therapists often instruct patients and clients on the use of isometric exercise to engage their muscles for corrective posture and rehabilitation. Dr.Chris Steidinger of Maximized Living, at ProActive Health and Wellness in Columbus, Ohio, prescribes and recommends isometric exercise  to many of his patients regularly.

Isometrics can be applied almost anywhere at anytime. While at work, watching TV at home, sitting in the car, flying on a business trip, or anywhere it would be safe to do so. Leg isometrics would be a bad idea sitting at a stop light in your car while driving. I do however twist my grip on the steering wheel while sitting at a stop light. This works the hands and forearms.

Standing in a doorway, you can push against both sides of the door frame at head, shoulder, waist and thigh height, for a full range of motion exercise. All you do is apply pressure against the frame as if pushing it apart. While seated, you can press down on your upper leg while trying to raising your leg against the resistance. To work the shoulder and back area you can put your hands together in front of you and apply pressure towards the palms. This can be reversed by locking your fingers together and trying to pull them apart. While keeping your head straight, you can apply pressure against it with your hands to strengthen the neck muscles. This is good for releasing tension in the neck area.

These are just a few of the many variations of Isometric exercise that are simple and require no special machines to perform. Do these at work, home, or on the go to tone your muscles.              Keep moving and stay fit.

In fitness, Bob